A truly original and dynamic group show draws attention to what it means to survive in a shrinking economy. Shoe- shiners and Artists to the rescue!
While you are waiting for Obama to do something Rooseveltian to replace the jobs our economy has been hemorrhaging for years, Rae and Hope McGrath at Brooklynite Gallery suggest you pick up a shoe-shine box and get to work.
I can’t even tell you how many artists I know who are out of work, and consequently how many are working harder than ever on the stuff that makes them happy and gives their life meaning – their art.
Like many New Yorkers watching their options dwindling, The Bushinomic Bank-zaster of ’08-’09-’10 has given many artistic types a lot of time to sharpen their skills, decide what needs to be done to survive, and to work together. One possible result, BSA is predicting, is an even bigger All-City BOOM in street art right around the corner. As jobs continue to evaporate and gallery doors close, the gallery of the street beckons a little louder each day to those who have a creative voice but no where to speak it.
What does it mean for an artist to “survive” in a tough economic climate? – That’s the question Brooklynite Gallery in Bed Stuy posed to 100 artists when putting this show together. Focusing on the box of supplies that a shoe-shiner uses, Rae and Hope asked a very diverse group of street/graff artists to create a box of their own to express their approach to work and survival.
The truly eclectic results reveal not just entrepreneurial aspirations, but psychological profiles expressing values and dreams and inner-workings of the artistic process. Symbolism abounds, and because of the limitations imposed, meanings densely packed alongside personal aspiration. To appreciate the intensity, plan your calendar to see the show twice.
With the global economic downturn and the hardship it has caused, this show is clearly a tribute to, and an attempt to give voice to, the hard-working people who labor to make a living. By asking artists and fans to meditate on these realities, Brooklynite is pushing us to think outside our own drama and consider the meaning of work, and to see the shoeshine box as survival box.
Brooklynite owner/curator/visionary/artist Rae McGrath took a break from installing the show to talk about his original inspiration for the show, and how it has evolved:
Brooklyn Street Art: Didn’t the shinebox go out with the icebox? What was the impetus for the theme of this show?
Rae McGrath: Last time I heard the term “icebox” I was well into my 11 hour of The Honeymooners Marathon they run on New Years Day. BUT -shinebox’s never go out of style. Everyone enjoys compartmentalizing things don’t they? Mostly for the wrong reasons but they do… However this exhibition goes beyond shine boxes and shinning shoes. It deals with working in the most stripped down, basic sense of the term.
The project stems from my love for shoeshine boxes. Traveling through Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, etc., I was always impressed with how these things were built, mostly by kids. Any materials they could find held together with rusted nails and recycled bottles for dyes and you’re good to go. So out of that, combined with this f&*ked up economy I wanted to take it one step further and ask artists from around the world– “If you had to take to the streets to survive in this economy, what would you do?” I asked that each keep the “survival object” inside a square foot. It could be found, bought, modified, etc. We wanted to try and unify graffiti artists with street and contemporary
Brooklyn Street Art: How does the current financial crisis in the country play in the psychology of this show?
Rae McGrath: A lot of artists we approached with the concept said it really resonated with them. Some live off their work and lost studios, commissions, etc. It sucks. Art is considered a luxury item to most– but we don’t necessarily see it that way. Art inspires and motivates. Makes people think and study. To us that’s no luxury. It should be the norm.
Brooklyn Street Art: Logistically, getting a hundred artists to create and deliver their pieces must have been like herding cats…
Rae McGrath: The logistics of this show have been pretty hectic. I also think that most people in my neighborhood believe I am a drug dealer at this point. Everyday another small package showing up. Strange and cool at the same time. But what makes it worthwhile is when you open a package and a true gem comes out.
I think the biggest feat when doing a show of this magnitude is making sure each artist get their work seen– Hence the video we just put out. We are not very fond of your run of the mill group show that focuses on a key word or something. We tried to keep the guidelines here a bit more rigid.
Brooklyn Street Art: Did every artist take a shine to your idea?
Rae McGrath: Yes. EXCEPT for the ones that were afraid of working in 3 dimension.
Brooklyn Street Art: What box is blowing your mind?
Rae McGrath: There are several boxes blowing my mind for different reasons… Some because of the design, others the concept and some for both. VARIOUS & GOULD (with KUUK)’s box is stunning. Drop a coin in and make some beats. Completely captures the essence of this exhibition. They also did the hand-made flyer for the show and limited edition prints. 3TTMAN’s peep show is a thing of beauty. KOSBE, TEN13ONE. I know I’m leaving some killer ones but– wait this isn’t print— Not trying to save trees— BEN FROST has a clever piece, Destroy & Rebuild … Look man just get over here and see them.
Brooklyn Street Art: Are any of them functional, practical, usable?
Rae McGrath: Some are functional in a practical sense others in a spiritual one– That part of the theme was open to interpretation and heavily expanded upon.
Brooklyn Street Art: The title sounds like an exhortation; “Go Get your Shine Box” are you telling us roll up our sleeves and get to work?
Rae McGrath: Hell yeah. Maybe the name should be “GO GET YOU ASS TO WORK”. Seriously I think we all know where that title came from…. Or should at least.
Brooklyn Street Art: BTW, I usually wear size 10.5 black wingtips. Can I drop them off anytime after Nov. 21? I’ll need them for Thanksgiving.
Rae McGrath: Oh sounds nice. We actually have the same size shoe… Drop them off .
Opening Reception: November 21 7-10 p.m.
Artists in the show include:
MISS BUGS, JEF AEROSOL, SWEET TOOF, PURE EVIL, BEN EINE, DAIN, INKIE, BEN FROST, STEN, LEX, JACE, LUKE INSECT, VARIOUS & GOULD,KUUK, CEPT, WILL BARRAS, 5003, DDOCK, PHIL ASHCROFT ,JOE BLACK ,THUNDERCUT, K-GUY,ANTHONY LISTER, AIKO,GAIA,DAVID WALKER,RYCA,SKEWVILLE,PENNY,BILLI KID,SADDO,PAPER MONSTER,DANIEL LUMBINI,3TTMAN,OZMO,PERU ANA ANA PERU,REMED,FEFE TALAVERA, EVOL, SPECTER, ZBIOK, MYMO, LUDO, ELICSER, KNOW HOPE, BROKEN CROW, GAETANE MICHAUX, AUGUSTUS THOMPSON, COLLIN VAN DER SLUJIS, KOSBE, SPQR, M8, HUSH, DEREK SHUMATE, ZOOT, FUMAKAKA, JORGE GALVAO, MEDO, EL MATO, AJAMU WALKER, PRESTO, RODRIGO LEVEL, EMA, NONOSE, MIKE FALES, IVICA CAPAN, PLIMSOUL, JO PEEL, THE KRAH, RAFAEL SLIKS, BLO, DESTROY & REBUILD, JAW, KAN, LIME, OSIK, ANU SCHWARTZ, JACE RIVERA, SOWAT, ROSTONE, TIKA, RICHARD DIX, JOAQUIM STEVENSON-RODRIGUEZ, CELSO, CAKE, AME72, BRUSK, GEOMETRIC BANG, DARKCLOUD
, MARVIN CRUSHLER, LEAST WANTED, MANO DE PAPEL, TEN13ONE, KLONE, KNOX, FKDL, ROBOTS WILL KILL, RAE